The One No one Else Wanted

After years of vehemently opposing the notion of pet ownership, Frank acceded to the acquisition of two rescued guinea pigs. This was in 2015. We got the first two piggies in January 2016. A few months later one of our piggies let us in on a secret – a surprise baby! Three months later the mummy died (sniff) and we went to the guinea pig rescue again. This time we came home with another two piggies. One of these had serious health issues and… well, suffice it to say, we have five guinea pigs now, all unwanted by their previous owners, and they’re all in good health, apart from one, but we do our best for him and he’s a contented little chap.

Last September we decided to get some fish. You know, just a couple… Fast forward six months and we have seven coldwater fish and 15 tropical fish, bringing our total pet count to 27. The coldwater fish all have names, but by the time we got to the tropical we were done with that idea! We have a loach called Ken (geddit?) and his missus is Barbie. The goldfish are Elizabeth, Bob and Sue, and the little danio-wotsits are Danio and Philio, after Chip’s favourite youtubers. Danio and Philio live in a micro tank in Frank’s office, and Mr. I Have Forsworn All Contact With Animals Unless They’re On My Plate takes pleasure in feeding them and checking their water.

And then… We got a dog! He’s between 9 and 11 years old and was the one dog at the rescue that no one else wanted. Both my girls said they wanted to get the dog that no one else wanted – and I was so proud of them for making that choice. And bless his little mutton chops he’s a genuine sweetie. We wouldn’t change him for the world. What a blessing!

Since we got the dog we also acquired two rabbits, also rescued. The dog and the rabbits are beginning to come up to condition, poor things. Fluff has found herself a horse and two ponies to look after, too, in return for a ride or two. So we now live in a menagerie. Life is messy and chaotic but occasionally quite beautiful. And always, always funny.

Free

orange and yellow petaled flowers

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

When [the mind] is so full of thoughts and ideas about the way things are and the way things should be, the mind lacks the flexibility and openness to see the world in a new way. Perhaps it lacks the capacity to see the world at all, since its view is filtered through a rigid mass of beliefs and concepts.

~ from Insight: Clearing the Mind by Mark W. Muesse

(from The Great Courses lectures, this one included free for Audible members)

 

Life is filled with ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ – and you know what? I don’t think they come from God at all. Jesus never said ‘you ought to…’ Jesus said ‘do’. He warned against doing things for the wrong reasons and He didn’t trip people up with guilt. Ever.

C-PTSD thrives on guilt and shame and I’m not playing that game any longer. It’s never-ending, it’s pointless and it sucks the life out of you. Jesus said:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest(renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 Amplified

or, as Eugene Peterson put it:

“Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”

Matthew 11:29 The Message

Speaking of which…

Does the wheel keep her going, or does she keep the wheel going? It’s like a dance between the moon and the tide. The perfect metaphor for the unforced rhythms of grace (because that’s the way my mind works. You’re welcome). 

 

Struggles… and Balm

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my help and my God.

Psalm 42:5,6a NRSVA

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder sucks. Its most insidious symptoms are toxic guilt and feelings of worthlessness. They are, in every sense of the word, crippling. Frankly it’s a miracle that I even get out of bed, if I’m really honest. Mindfulness meditation allows me to settle into the present, knowing my full humanity, my full made-in-the-likeness-of-God self.

I can b r e a t h e.

In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4:10 NRSVA

Self-compassion has allowed me to begin to love myself as a parent loves a child. I am able to see myself from a godly perspective – through the prism of Love. God has no desire to beat me up continually over my flaws – on the contrary, so why do I do it to myself? God loves me. I am redeemed. I am no more than anyone else, but I am certainly no less than anyone else. I don’t need to know any more than that. So I wrote the following, to remind myself – and maybe you – of what it really means to be a child of the Most High God:

You are a child of God, beloved and precious. Christ paid the price for you to not be shackled by sin. He loved YOU so much that He paid with His LIFE. This doesn’t mean that life is (ever) easy but it DOES mean you are no worse than anyone else – and if Jesus says you’re forgiven, what in heaven’s name are you beating yourself up for?

You’re ok. One step at a time. One day at a time. One foot in front of the other. Jesus is right there with you as you go. So stop beating yourself up and get on with living.

Life is a gift. Every breath is a miracle.  What had to happen for the confluence of atoms to become molecules, for the molecules to become living cells, for the cells to form a hugely complex organism – for the universe to create YOU? You’re a miracle. You are God-breathed. This is cause for celebration.

 

There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole

There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.

Sometimes I get discouraged, or think my work’s in vain,

But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again...

~ traditional spiritual

 

So let’s stop chasing self-esteem and start being compassionate to everyone, including ourselves, as Kristin Neff so eloquently explains in this video.

The only negative thing about this video is that for the speaker one of the most difficult things in her life is the fact that her son has autism. For me, the fact that my son has autism is really the least of the horrible things that have happened in my life. In fact, I don’t consider it as ‘happening’ to me at all – he’s the one with autism, not me. I’m his mum. It’s my job to be there for him. Why on earth do we presume we have the right to a ‘perfect’ child? Our Westernised, consumerist mindset is beyond crazy, especially when it comes to our own children. Ugh. I am so glad it is not possible to diagnose autism antenatally, as is frequently done with Down’s Syndrome. Anyway, I digress… The video is in many other ways excellent (and I’m not criticising Kristin – just pointing out something about our culture) and Kristin Neff’s audiobook Self-Compassion Step-by-Step has been hugely beneficial for me and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is struggling, whatever your reason. And perhaps I should recall the words of Edith Eger, Holocaust survivor and author of The Choice – there is no hierarchy of suffering.

See also Positively Powerless by LL Martin (blogger at Enough Light) for what the problems are with the self-esteem movement and an unhealthy emphasis on positivity and the consumerist mindset, particularly within Christianity. God is not a slot machine. The very notion is appalling… but that is a post for another day.

The featured image is from By Deror_avi – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36512852

 

 

‘A Guest,’ I Answered, ‘Worthy to be Here’

 

‘Miserere mei, Deus’ is based on Psalm 51. It was composed by Gregorio Allegri, transcribed by a young Mozart and sung here by the incomparable Tenebrae Choir.

 

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin.

 For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
 Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
    and blameless when you pass judgement.
 Indeed, I was born guilty,
    a sinner when my mother conceived me.

 You desire truth in the inward being;
    therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
 Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
 Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.

 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and put a new and right spirit within me.
 Do not cast me away from your presence,
    and do not take your holy spirit from me.
 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and sustain in me a willing spirit.

 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.
 Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
    O God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

 O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
 For you have no delight in sacrifice;
    if I were to give a burnt-offering, you would not be pleased.
 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
    rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
 then you will delight in right sacrifices,
    in burnt-offerings and whole burnt-offerings;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.

                                                                ~ Psalm 51 NRSVA
   

 

The first step in becoming a follower of Christ is recognising my own depthless misery – my sin. I can’t turn back time. I can’t undo any of what I have done. I made the chasm between myself and God. Me. Why? Because I do stupid, hurtful things, selfish things. Christ alone was perfect, and He alone took the stain of sin upon Himself, so that I might not have to be separated from God. I deserve none of what He gave, yet because my Creator knows me, and loves me, He brings Himself to me. What love is this?

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,

Guilty of dust and sin.

But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack

From my first entrance in,

Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning

If I lacked anything.

“A guest,” I answered, “worthy to be here”:

Love said, “You shall be he.”

“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear, I cannot look on thee.”

Love took my hand, and smiling did reply, “Who made the eyes but I?”

“Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame

Go where it doth deserve.”

“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”

“My dear, then I will serve.”

“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”

So I did sit and eat.

~ Love by George Herbert, circa 1633

 

2018: My Year in Books

red chamber

My favourite book of 2018: The Red Chamber by Pauline Chen

I read 148 books in 2018. Phew! Lots of children’s books. I think my daughter is right when she says I am going through a second childhood. Hurrah! It’s part of the healing process. Especially in the absence of any actual therapy (cheers, NHS). Jesus made a point of the importance of being childlike so I figure I can’t be too far wrong.

It’s worth adding that as well as these, I read the bible: a chapter of the Old Testament every day and a chapter of the New Testament every day. When I get to the end of either, I begin again. Also, when I get to the end of The Practice of the Presence of God, I start again. I’m clearly a poor apprentice in this area as I need to immediately begin again as soon as I have finished, which means I have read the book more times than I can count, but I’m not stopping any time soon. The Practice of the Presence of God, written 400 years ago, is about living life with God always on your mind and in your heart – basically a practical guide to living out the Gospel, from an ordinary person’s perspective.

I’m currently enjoying reading Charles Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby, Rachel Held Evans’ Searching for Sunday, Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Confusion, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little Town on the Prairie, Lucia Capacchione’s Recovery of Your Inner Child and Margaret Walker’s Jubilee. I’m also listening to a series of lectures entitled The Story of Human Language by Professor John McWhorter, which are absolutely fascinating. I’ve long had a penchant for linguistics and McWhorter is an excellent teacher for the layperson.

The Great Courses lectures are a wonderful resource for anyone wanting to broaden their horizons with talks from academics. I have previously listened to The Science of Mindfulness by Prof. Ronald D. Siegel, An Economic History of the World Since 1400 by Prof. Donald J. Harreld, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy by Prof. Jason M. Satterfield and about half of America and the New Global Economy by Prof. Timothy Taylor.

Drumroll, please. Here are all the books I read in 2018, courtesy of Goodreads:

CF – Books aimed at children under 14

NF – Non-fiction

F – Fiction aimed at 14+

Titles with links are my favourites of 2018 (new-to-me) books.

Joan Aiken – A Necklace of Raindrops and Other Stories, CF

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, CF

Black Hearts in Battersea, CF

Night Birds on Nantucket, CF

Louisa May Alcott – Rose in Bloom, F

Eight Cousins, CF

Good Wives, F

Little Women, F

Elaine Aron – The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You, NF

Jane Austen – Persuasion, F

Pride and Prejudice, F

Northanger Abbey, F

Lauren Bates – Distraction Addiction, NF

Mary Beard – Pompeii, NF

Katie Berry – 30 Days to a Clean and Organized House, NF

Enid Blyton – Five on a Treasure Island, CF

Five Run Away Together, CF

The Amelia Jane Collection, CF

Hollow Tree House, CF

Five Go Off in a Caravan, CF

The Folk of the Faraway Tree, CF

The Valley of Adventure, CF

Mary Elizabeth Braddon – The Christmas Hirelings, CF

Jo Brand – The More You Ignore Me, F

Charlotte Bronte – Jane Eyre, F

Emily Bronte – Wuthering Heights, F

Frances Hodgson Burnett – The Secret Garden, CF

A Little Princess, CF

Little Lord Fauntleroy, CF

Jessie Burton – The Miniaturist, F

Nora Carroll – The Color of Water in July, F

Father Gary Caster – The Little Way of Lent, NF

Jung Chang – Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, NF

Pauline A. Chen – The Red Chamber, F

Agatha Christie – Murder in Mesopotamia, F

Toby Clements – Kingdom Come, F

Clara Cannucciari – Clara’s Kitchen, NF

Susan Coolidge – What Katy Did, CF

What Katy Did at School, CF

Jill Cooper – How to Get Organized, NF

Penny-Pinching Mama, NF

Patricia Cornwell – Post Mortem, F

Richmal Crompton – William the Pirate, F

William’s Happy Days, F

Just William, F

William Again, F

Carolyn L. Dean – Bed, Breakfast and Bones, F

E.M. Delafield – Diary of a Provincial Lady, F

The Provincial Lady Goes Further, F

The Provincial Lady in Wartime, F

The Provincial Lady in America, F

The Provincial Lady in Russia, F

Monica Dickens – One Pair of Hands, NF

Berlie Doherty – Abela, CF

Arthur Conan Doyle – A Study in Scarlet, F

The Sign of Four, F

Andrew Eade – Coldwater Fishkeeping, NF

Edith Eger – The Choice, NF

Grace Foakes – Four Meals for Fourpence, NF

Neil Gaiman – The Sleeper and the Spindle, F

Coraline, CF

Norse Mythology, F

Lisa Gardner – Catch Me, F

Fear Nothing, F

Right Behind You, F

Look For Me, F

Elizabeth Gaskell – Ruth, F

Wives and Daughters, F

Cranford, F

Lewis Haas – The Basics of a Healthy Vegan Lifestyle, NF

James Herriot – All Creatures Great and Small, F

Let Sleeping Vets Lie, F

Elizabeth Jane Howard – The Light Years, F

Marking Time, F

Laila Ibrahim – Mustard Seed, F

Eowyn Ivey – The Snow Child, F

David Jackson – Don’t Make a Sound, F

Kevin Jackson – Mayflower: The Voyage from Hell, NF

Julian of Norwich – Revelations of Divine Love, NF

Judith Kerr – When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, CF

The Other Way Round, CF

A Small Person Far Away, F

Jeff Kinney – Cabin Fever, CF

Choderlos de Laclos – Les Liaisons Dangereuses, F

Brother Lawrence – The Practice of the Presence of God, NF

Ursula K. Le Guin – A Wizard of Earthsea, F

Bonnie Leon – To Love Anew, F

C.S. Lewis – The Horse and His Boy, CF

The Silver Chair, CF

Patricia MacLachlan – The Sarah Plain and Tall Collection, CF

More Perfect than the Moon, CF

Katie Davis Majors – Daring to Hope, NF

Imogen Matthews – The Hidden Village, F

Anne McCaffrey – Dragonsong, F

Thomas Meehan – Annie, CF

A.A. Milne – The House at Pooh Corner, CF

L.M. Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables, CF

D.L. Moody – A Life for Christ, NF

Jill Murphy – The Worst Witch, CF

Rebecca Musser – The Witness Wore Red, NF

Nujeen Mustafa – The Girl from Aleppo, NF

Kristin Neff – Self-Compassion Step by Step, NF

E. Nesbit – The Phoenix and the Carpet, CF

The Magic City, CF

Five Children and It, CF

The Railway Children, CF

Trevor Noah – Born a Crime, NF

Amanda Prowse – My Husband’s Wife, F

The Art of Hiding, F

Weina Dai Randel – The Moon in the Palace, F

Ruth Rendell – Simisola, F

Richard Rohr – Preparing for Christmas, NF

Letting Go, NF

Jennifer Roy – Yellow Star, F

Simon Schama – A History of Britain: At the Edge of the World? 3500BC-AD1603, NF

William L. Shirer – The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, NF

Jim Smith – My Dad is a Loser, CF

Ruth Soukup – 31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero, NF

John Steinbeck – Of Mice and Men, F

Noel Streatfeild – Ballet Shoes, CF

David Suchet – Questions of Faith, NF

Sun Tzu – The Art of War, NF

Amy Tan – The Joy Luck Club, F

The Bonesetter’s Daughter, F

The Kitchen God’s Wife, F

Ann Tatlock – A Room of My Own, F

Cynthia Voigt – Homecoming, F

Ann Voskamp – One Thousand Gifts Devotional, NF

One Thousand Gifts, NF

Susanna de Vries – Great Pioneer Women of the Outback, NF

Sabra Waldfogel – Sister of Mine, F

Paul Washer – Ten Indictments Against the Modern Church, NF

Lauren Weisberger – The Devil Wears Prada, F

Tara Westover – Educated, NF

Oscar Wilde – Lady Windermere’s Fan, F

Laura Ingalls Wilder – Little House in the Big Woods, CF

Little House on the Prairie, CF

On the Banks of Plum Creek, CF

By the Shores of Silver Lake, CF

The Long Winter, CF

Little Town on the Prairie, CF

These Happy Golden Years, CF

The First Four Years, CF

Jacqueline Wilson – Hetty Feather, CF

Wave Me Goodbye, CF

John Wyndham – The Chrysalids, F

The Day of the Triffids, F

Pam Young – Sidetracked Home Executives, NF

 

 

Lessons

I have friends… I’m still getting to know them. They understand pain and loss. They tell me I won’t always feel like this. They remind me that I have the strength to survive. They promise that one day I will learn to live again. They have introduced me to other people who know what it’s like to not be able to sleep at night. And sometimes, talking with all these other crazies, I feel almost sane again.

~ from Look for Me by Lisa Gardner

Never thought a quote from the very end of a novel by one of my favourite authors would sum up exactly how I feel about the mental health theatre group that I recently joined. It’s good. Progress sometimes feels like going in the wrong direction, but it’s still progress.

Reblog: People’s Word of 2018: Cast your vote!

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

The team at Cambridge Dictionary have shortlisted four words that were added to the dictionary this year, and we would like YOU to tell us which of these words best sums up 2018.

There are over 100,000 words and meanings in the Cambridge Dictionary, but we are constantly adding to these, with almost 2,000 new words and updated definitions every year.

The four words we have shortlisted for the People’s Word of 2018 are:

View original post 141 more words

Old Wounds

Fluff just got in from her first ever 5km run. When she came through the door she staggered through into the office and said to Frank, “Dad, I feel a bit light headed.”
Frank, never one to miss an opportunity to tease his vehemently vegan daughter, said, “You should have had a cheeseburger beforehand, loaded up on some meat.”
Fluff replied, “Mmm, yes, shoulda got me some class 1 carcinogens.”
“Touche.” Said I.
“Indeed,” she said, smiling, “I should be a stand up comedian.”
She flopped onto the settee, “Actually, I think I’m more of a sit down comedian.”

********

That little anecdote aside, this post is more about my experience of going along to the local mental health theatre group, because I have been four times now. Each time has been very enjoyable, even though I’ve only been watching. I have learned so much. The professionalism of the actors and director is seriously impressive. Not your usual amateur dramatics. Yesterday, though… The PTSD came raging back. I tried to hide it. Complex PTSD is no bloody joke. My head was a warzone.

From every direction the missiles came, pounding one after another after another in a full-force PTSD blitzkrieg:

“You’re useless!”
“Pathetic!”
“Worthless b*tch.”
“Worm!”
“You can’t do anything without screwing it up, can you?”
“I’ll kill you.”
“They’re all looking at you… They all think you’re stupid and they can’t wait until you leave.”
“You should just run out that door and never come back.”
“What made you think you could possibly belong here? You don’t belong anywhere. Crawl back under the rock that you came from.”
“If they knew your story they’d hate you. It’s all your fault.”
“What you gonna do about it, c***?”

And of course there was the sense of imminent danger, which I imagine is akin to the feeling that bombs are dropping all around you. I knowingly use a military metaphor because I know that many people associate PTSD with combat veterans and I need to make the link with the experience and sensations of PTSD, especially when it’s related to abuse and violence.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t hallucinate. I don’t hear voices. I don’t have an illness in that sense (not that I am casting aspersions on those who do; I’m just being clear). These are all thoughts in my head, but they’re accompanied by emotions that are as full-on as if I am experiencing the traumas all over again. And there were so many traumas that in the unwonted re-enactment they all run into one another. I was rational enough to recognise that these thoughts are – extremely loud – echoes of the past, but no amount of rationalising could make them stop. Discreet deep breaths helped me calm myself. After all, I reasoned, it will only make it worse if I do run out.
After a fantastic session for the cast, as we all headed out the door, I complimented a cast member on her genuinely lovely singing voice, and confessed (rather bravely, actually, because an admission that all is not well is making oneself vulnerable, but I had just witnessed a dozen people all making themselves vulnerable in the performance, so…) that although I hadn’t done anything, I felt extremely nervous. Understatement.
“Hug!” She said, “We do hugs here, at the end.” And she moved towards me with her arms open. I don’t generally do hugs, but she wasn’t threatening. I was able to briefly hug, accepting the kindness with which it was offered, and then walk with deep breaths to my car.
Couldn’t sleep, though, and when I did it was constant nightmares, punctuated by wakefulness. Sigh. “Stop the world, I want to get off.” I prayed. And then, eventually, in the wee hours, “Ok, God, this is Yours.” Because I know that the arms that spread wide in agony on the cross were the same arms that reached out and gave me a hug – one broken, beautiful human being to another.
Now it’s morning; time to get on with the day. I’m not giving up. I’m going back next week. I can rationalise where those ‘voices’ were coming from: they were all things the abusers used to say. I would stay reaction-less, because reaction could provoke. Sometimes my reaction-less state would mean the situation did not escalate. Usually it didn’t matter what I did, the sadistic humiliation and violence would follow.
They say the only way to face phobias is to be exposed to the cause of the phobia in a desensitisation process. Maybe the way to get over this THING is to experience it all again, but in a safe place. To become acclimatised.

I’ll keep trying. Thank God.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.
Psalm 51:12 NRSVA

…[We] have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.
2 Corinthians 4:7-11 NRSVA

I do not pray that you may be delivered from your pains, but I pray GOD earnestly that He would give you strength and patience to bear them as long as He pleases. Comfort yourself with Him who holds you fastened to the cross… The men of the world do not comprehend these truths… They consider sickness as a pain to nature, and not as a favour from GOD; and seeing it only in that light, they find nothing in it but grief and distress…
I wish you could convince yourself that GOD is often (in some sense) nearer to us, and more effectually present with us, in sickness than in health… Put, then, all your trust in Him, and you will soon find the effects of it in your recovery…
Eleventh Letter, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing];
The punishment [required] for our well-being fell on Him,
And by His stripes (wounds) we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5 (Amplified)

 

 

Maybe

Many years ago a little girl planted a seed. Buried in the damp dark the little girl forgot about it. When she did occasionally remember a fleeting sense of a – something – she assumed she must have been mistaken. That cold nubbin must simply have been a tiny, impermeable pebble. So what? That’s life. Hardly even life because it never lived in the first place; it just existed. And it was just a stone.

I’ve always had the odd habit of attaching a song to whatever I’m doing at a particular time. I know it’s odd because when I asked my husband whether it ever happened to him, he just looked at me with that patient look, the one that says okaaaaayyy… Yeah, he plays role playing games and gets all Big Bang Theory geeky over the difference between a troll and an elf. He can look at me all he likes. We’re a good match 😉

I wonder if the song thing’s related to synaesthesia? Anyway, sometimes it’s a hymn, sometimes a rock or pop song, occasionally an aria. Sometimes it’s just a phrase of music, minus words, especially jazz or big band. The overall effect is a bit like the dreaded earworm, only this thing comes and goes, and does not linger beyond its wantedness. It is a useful reflection of my unfiltered subconscious reaction to whatever is going on: my very own mental musical score. Woohoo.

As I lay down to sleep yesterday it was this:

Last night I went along for the first time to a local mental health theatre group. I told them I didn’t want to act – at least, not at first – and they were fine with that. I was astonished by what I found. Not ‘astonished’. That’s too forceful. No, it was a beautiful surprise, like realising that what you thought was just a plain old lump is actually an egg, and that the cracking, the apparent breaking, is what’s supposed to happen. That keen-edged shard is just the first, hesitant glimpse of a little chicky beak.
I am equally astonished – and there I use the word advisedly – by my own response to this blossoming. I could have been triggered by some of the subject matter. A few things were rather close to home and I have an overactive sense of empathy. Ouch. But the simplicity of the delivery, the raw honesty, the writing, the direction, even the screw-ups (the group is, after all, still in rehearsal) were a call to something that I had almost forgotten existed.

Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
All your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
Psalm 42:7 (NIV)

And the ‘trigger’ didn’t happen. The expected ‘ALERT! ALERT! DEFCON 1! IMMINENT ATTACK!’ PTSD response just didn’t occur. I wasn’t overwhelmed. I didn’t want to hide under the table, or run away vowing never to return. I didn’t look at any of the group and ‘see’ someone else, someone threatening and crazy and powerful. Instead, I was touched by the enthusiasm and talent of the actors and felt genuinely inspired, something I barely recognised.

Maybe last night that little girl’s seed began its first, tentative creep towards the surface of the soil. The tiny, tender sprout is still in the dark, but the seed’s no longer dead. Maybe.

Patience

Just_William_cover

William was rather late to lunch. His father and mother and elder brother and sister were just beginning the meal. He slipped quietly and unostentatiously into his seat… 

“William,” said Mrs Brown, “I do wish you’d be in time, and I do wish you’d brush your hair before you come to table.”

William raised a hand to perform the operation, but catching sight of its colour, hastily lowered it.

“No, Ethel dear, I didn’t know anyone had taken Lavender Cottage. An artist? How nice! William dear, do sit still. Have they moved in yet?”

“Yes,” said Ethel, “they’ve taken it furnished for two months, I think. Oh, my goodness, just look at William’s hands!”

William put his hands under the table and glared at her.

“Go and wash your hands, dear,” said Mrs. Brown patiently.

For eleven years she had filled the trying position of William’s mother. It had taught her patience.

from Just William by Richmal Crompton

After a particularly taxing day yesterday, I just had to share with you the one thing that, on hearing it this morning (read by the inimitable Martin Jarvis), made me nearly snort out my morning cuppa. Seeing the funny side somehow makes things better, even if it doesn’t resolve them. Thank God for humour 😉